ADVERTISEMENT

The crew of sailing school vessel Tole Mour and Catalina Island Marine Institute instructors hold an 18-foot-long oarfish that was found in the waters of Toyon Bay on Santa Catalina Island, Calif.

., Catalina Island Marine Institute via AP

Oct. 18, 2013: An oarfish that washed up on the beach near Oceanside, Calif. This rare, snakelike oarfish measured nearly 14 feet long.

Mark Bussey, Associated Press

Parasites found in Calif. 'sea serpent' dissection

  • Associated Press
  • October 29, 2013 - 2:19 PM

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — One of two oarfish found in Southern California waters earlier this month had a host of parasites living in its giant, serpent-like body.

Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara last week dissected the 18-foot oarfish found off Catalina Island and found large, larval tapeworms in its intestine. An adult spiny-headed worm also was found embedded in the intestine.

Scientists say the discovery of the parasites is important because it tells them what the natural enemies of the oarfish are and could indicate where the elusive fish lives or hunts for food.

A snorkeler found the carcass of the oarfish Oct. 13. Several days later, another oarfish washed ashore in Oceanside.

It's not known how either died.

The rarely seen deep sea-dwelling creatures can grow to more than 50 feet.

© 2014 Star Tribune